A Family Discussion

Part IV of IV

Once it was said, Dale couldn’t take it back but at the same time… he ran into his bedroom after Sandra anyway. Leaning on the door frame he said, “I didn’t mean any of that.”

“Oh yes. Yes you did, you shit.” Sandra was smoking, calling Rick and chewing gum at the same time. Rick picked up the phone on the other end. Dale sunk down to the floor and buried his head in his hands.

“Hey, Babe.” Sandra grinned.

Cool as a cucumber she proceeded to tell him that she needed to meet him at their usual spot. It was an emergency and she needed to see him as soon as possible.

She prepared herself and took her black Chanel bag, flung it over the shoulder of her black leather jacket and then threw her gum in the trash underneath the vanity in the bedroom. Dale watched.

“I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time Dale.” She stopped and took a long deep breath. “Thank you, I love you, I hate you but most of all: Fuck you! Fuck you and your coldness. Fuck you and your pretentiousness. Fuck you and your books and your blessed fucking brilliance. Fuck. You.” Then before Dale could figure out what to say she grinned gleefully and dashed out of the house.

He was numb. All this madness that had seemed to come at him made him feel incredibly numb. But not numb in the usual way. It made him feel weak… But still, hadn’t she been waiting to say that? Hadn’t she often looked sad when he kissed her forehead as they parted? She always looked sad, come to think of it.

Was he sad too? The thought made him laugh uncontrollably. It went so far beyond that… Why even bother trying to think tiny, silly little thoughts about it right now.

Sunlight poured in through the windows in the family room. Bold, warm sunlight threw a spotlight on the dancing of dust. The sofa was soft. The walls were a clean, lovely beige. It broke him.

Because everything was just as it should be. Even the sunlight was as it should be.

But… where was he? Was he here in this room? Here in this body he looked down at? Why, just earlier today he’d mused about his aging skin and his weight. In that moment he felt present but right now… where was he? Where was he most of the time? Huh.

Sarah’s day had started out fantastically. It was pure genius.

They held hands. Patrick gave her winks every time she turned around in math class. And when some guy started teasing him about it he threatened him and the guy actually backed-off. And then, as if to spite it all, he drew two big hearts after class with their initials in them on the chalkboard. She was in awe of him. What a wonderful start…

And back in the jungle of the seventh grade Scott was also happy… enough. Having followed his sister’s advice he shunned any social points he could have gained by telling his would-be buddies what was actually the truth. Instead he told them he didn’t want to talk about it. They looked confused and accused him of being a chicken but then when he didn’t flinch they went quiet. Then one of them suggested that he must have actually gotten really drunk and in a lot of trouble. But still, he refused to comment. And oddly, in his cold indifference, they felt almost… snubbed. It was then that Scott, with his great intuition, realized how deeply insecure these guys were. And, he nearly resented them.

Sandra’s hair flew about her pretty face as she drove up to the train depot with her window down. She beamed at Rick. And there he stood, all of him, right there in front of the parking spot by the entrance to the depot. Hands in his pockets he looked both excited and dead-set. Their eyes met magically and as Sandra gracefully exited the car she looked like a mysterious ancient and beautiful creature finding her true mate.

Their words were sparse but they didn’t need many words. He did however ask her, “What made you finally change your mind?”

“I had a talk with Dale this morning and I realized how useless it is to figure certain things out. It’s never been my style anyway… I know I love you too and being with you is the only real fun I’ve had in a long time. I was waiting because I just wanted to be sure… But I’m done waiting to be sure. I’m done waiting to try to… ‘do things the right way.’ She grinned. “I just want to be fucking happy for once in my fucking life.” Her smile grew enormous.

“Well, whatever brought you to your senses is good enough for me.” Rick caressed her softly but certainly and then they got in his Jeep.

After sitting and staring at the door frame for about a half an hour Dale finally rose from his seat on the floor and decided to make a cup of coffee. Finally sipping his coffee he stood in silence and then thought how perfect it would be to read the newspaper? Except it wouldn’t.

Dale sunk slowly, feet slippery on the kitchen tile, to the kitchen floor. He stayed there for an hour…

After that Dale picked up a novel he had been intending to read and brought it to the sofa. But, instead of reading it he just sat and… stared. And stared. And stared

Then the phone rang. It rang in the kitchen. It rang in the bedroom. It rang in a bathroom near the stairs to the basement.

Dale rose from his seat and walked to the phone in the kitchen. It was a green plastic phone and it lit up when it rang.

“Hello.” Dale quietly spoke.

It was a call from the hospital. A woman who they had determined to be his wife was losing her life. She had been in a car accident with a man who appeared to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash. He had died at the scene and she was just barely clinging to life. He needed to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.

I wish I could say that all was well. But it wasn’t. When are things ever really… truly well? Maybe not often this side of heaven.

Still, Sarah’s new boyfriend was proving to be a God-send and helping her grieve the death of her mother…  Her father had finally decided to go into counseling and start taking anti-depressants. And Scott… Well Scott was also in counseling.

What Scott said he regretted most was never really liking his mother. She was just so… cool and distant? They were just so different. So very different…

One Saturday, several months later, in a counseling session, Scott wrote his mother a letter.  In the letter he apologized for not liking her enough.  He felt guilty.  He apologized for not being a better son.  He expressed anger that she was so indifferent to him all his childhood.  He said, “goodbye.”  And then, as his counselor recommended, he placed the letter on her grave.

But Sarah was the most devastated.  She was the most distraught.

Patrick could sense her growing despair. He could sense that the fervent and blooming spring in her heart was threatening a revolt.

And one lazy late July day when Sarah refused to answer the phone he decided to go check on her. When he got to her house she had, “gone for a walk” her father told him. So, Patrick tried to track her down.

He figured out that she had probably made her way to the river. It was near the spot where her mother had been found and Sarah was the sort of confrontational soul who needed to stare death in the eyes and ask questions.

It took about an hour before he found her standing, peering down into the river right at the edge. He could sense her deathly trance and grief-stricken state. Patrick rushed to her side.

“Sarah! What are you doing?!” He yelled at her.

She turned around and face broken by many previous tears she calmly explained: “I decided to find my mother.” He knew exactly what she meant.

“What about me though, Sarah? You can’t just leave me here.”

A look of horror crossed her face. Then she looked down at the river by her feet. She noticed the flow and where the water went, and how it danced, taking itself far, far away from her.

His desolate, pleading face genuinely shocked her when she returned to it.

“I’ve just been thinking. I feel like I’m slightly at fault in some weird, roundabout way for my mother’s death.” She pauses. “And I never got a chance to say goodbye.” She starts to cry.

Patrick knows to not touch her just yet…

“I don’t want to leave you. But at the same time I’m such a depressing person to be around.” She smiles and shrugs. “We could easily break-up someday anyway and why waste your time with my nonsense?”

“But don’t you see how selfish and… arrogant that is? It’s my choice whether or not I want to be with you. And I want to be with you.” She shudders suddenly and he continues.

“Playing with the forces of life is futile. God can’t be toyed with.”

She looks down the river again. “My mother is gone. So far away. And what if I never see her again? Or, what if it takes … nearly forever? Even if we meet in Heaven then what? I live out the next seventy years waiting to see her? The next eighty?”

“What choice do you have but to wait? She’s gone, Sarah. Don’t try to follow her.”

He picks up two leaves and throws them in the river. They separate and flow together down the same path but apart from each other. She watches.

Patrick grabs her hand, then tugs her away from the stream. “Besides, I believe in God and if you’re supposed to meet again you will.”

They head back toward the parking lot through the woods and for a moment she feels extremely sad but at peace. Then the sound of footsteps is clearly heard right behind them – breaking twigs feet away.

The laughter of a woman and man cracks the air around them. They both hear it and then turn around to look. There’s nobody there, of course.

As they keep walking onward they hear it again. This time when they turn around Sarah walks backward to investigate. She looks around and sees a wet leaf in the middle of the path. “Hello?!” She screams out into the woods. “Hello?!” But nobody answers. She walks back to her boyfriend and says, “You heard it too right?”

He nods then says without flinching. “I heard it. It was probably your mother.” He makes a wild but sweet expression. “…But… I still wouldn’t chase after her, Sarah. She is dead.”

Sarah is surprised at his words but smiles sincerely. “It’s a little bit of everything isn’t it? Life…”. But then Sarah turns around just quickly enough to utter, “Good bye then, Mom. For now, at least.”

“Just keep saying all of that until you know what you really mean.” Patrick offers.

She nods.

A Family Discussion

Part III of IV

Friday morning Dale Blume woke up, blinked sleepily until his eyes focused on the pieces of furniture across the room from him. Then he threw his feet out of bed and touched the floor with his toes, finally standing and then making his way over to their master bathroom.

The cold marble floor felt nice and refreshing even if it was a jolt. He shivered and put on socks.

Dale looked in the mirror then and noticed a man standing in front of him with wrinkles and a slight gut. He smiled. He wasn’t sure why, but something occurred to him. It was something his mother used to say to him when he was a little boy back in Virginia.

She used to say, “You’re lucky to be alive, be happy.” That was her reproach whenever he showed any signs of sullenness or insecurity.

Thinking of it now made him almost laugh. It was true. He was blessed – blessed to be getting old.

And then there was breakfast. Having a beautiful, big breakfast was one of Dale’s daily delights.

He made perfect scrambled eggs. His toast was often, for lack of a more suitable word, impeccable. His fresh squeezed juices were practically legendary, actually.

Sometimes Dale even added sardines with tomatoes and pieces Danish cheeses on the side of the plate to add a certain “European” or “old-world” je ne sais quoi. Once he made stuffed mushrooms.

But then there was the problem. Nobody was yet awake today and he deplored sitting alone during meals and listening to himself chew. He once told Sandra in a moment of openness that he thought he sounded almost reminiscent of a cow chewing cud, and frankly he didn’t like it.

Standing there, in front of the dining room table, in his plaid boxer shorts, white shirt and socks… holding a lovely plate… he decided to break his own rules. He decided to go in the living room and eat in front of the television.

He brought out a card table and poured himself a coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice to accompany the meal. Perfect.

The television bored him, but he often enjoyed the financial news and the weather report. Today the weather sounded lovely. A warming trend was on the way and it was supposed to be sunny this morning.

The eggs needed pepper. He walked in the kitchen to get it and as he returned he noticed the bad news from the stock market. He invested a little here and there and lately the market had made him nervous. Yesterday he had ignored the news, but this morning he heard about it…

Dale looked around the living room and examined all the valuables in the room. He quickly reassessed in his mind what sort of provider he had truly been and felt foolish. Even though he had done well, he wasn’t up to his own standards, never had been actually… and the little he had recently lost in the market made him feel even worse. Also, the toast he made today was really terrible.

After getting dressed and giving his daughter her breakfast he went outside to water the roses. Dale was an excellent gardener.

It was just as he had finished picking a bit of ear wax out of his right ear, that Dale had the very strong sense that something or someone was staring at him. Mr. Blume turned around and saw a big shiny black truck pulling up his driveway. He squinted and… almost snarled.

In the driver’s seat was a young man. A manly young man… Dale lifted and arched his left eyebrow.

Helplessly he stood holding a watering can, wearing Sandra’s pink slippers, his white shirt, socks and a pair of gray sweat pants. And then out of the truck waltzed the young man towards him. He was such a handsome young man though…

Suddenly, he felt a tinge of jealousy as he oddly reasoned, still perhaps half asleep, that this strapping fellow was there to see Sandra. It quickly occurred to Dale Blume that he seemed too young for Sandra though…

Dale’s rather delicate facial features scrunched together in horrid confusion momentarily. Then, as his mind raced forward to meet reality, his face relaxed and his gentle eyes drifted off to the side and upward toward heaven as it thankfully, blessedly, came to him that this young man could be at his home for his daughter? Dear God…

It was in this precarious and rather unflattering state that Patrick Steele met Dale Blume. “Hello!” Patrick grinned, raised his hand awkwardly and then waved a strange but friendly little wave.

“I’m here to see if Sarah wants a ride to school. But she isn’t expecting me. I just…”. He froze for a second. “I wanted to surprise her.” It must have felt like a bad idea to Patrick as he said it out loud because his face dropped as his finished his sentence.

“I’ll go get her.” Dale didn’t introduce himself. He just turned awkwardly and started for the kitchen where he suspected Sarah was finishing her oatmeal.

It was odd. Dale liked this guy, and if Patrick had been there any other day, or if he had met Patrick in another circumstance he would have been warm to him. Introduced himself… But, today it was too much. Something was wrong. Dale wasn’t sure what yet but it was. He could feel it. Although, he was fairly sure it had nothing to do with… Patrick. At all... At all?

“Oh my gosh!!” Sarah practically fainted when she found out that Patrick was outside. She ran to him.

But Dale didn’t watch beyond the view from the kitchen. Instead, he turned his back and there in the kitchen, out of nowhere, as if it was a lightening strike from heaven he started to cry. And it wasn’t the sort of cry you have when you’re losing your daughter slowly but surely to adulthood and it suddenly occurs to you that you’re almost an old man. It was… everything.

It was as if all the madness was waiting for just the slightest push. All the years of quiet, perfect, polite, haunted living had fallen down from their high perch and crashed around him. And like a sad, scared little boy he cried. He shook.

When Sandra walked into the kitchen in her perpetually lovely state, she was shocked. “Dale?!” She walked quickly up to him and rubbed his arm pleasantly.

“What’s the matter?” She questioned sweetly.

“Sarah’s run off to school this morning with some boy. And next thing you know, she’ll be leaving permanently.” He dried his eyes and then came the crash landing.

“But I think what really got me-.” He stopped and looked Sandra straight in the eyes. “I think what really bothered me was that I thought for a split second, at first, that he was here to see you.” He exhaled somewhat passionately.

Sandra was beyond stunned.

“I can’t go on like this, Sandra.” He laid both of his hands on the kitchen counter and closed his eyes; resting his head on a cupboard door. She shifted uncomfortably in response.

“You know, I never thought you’d…”. She couldn’t finish.

“You’d what!?” His awoken directness startled her. …Had she ever seen him like this?

You don’t care. You don’t care who I see behind your back.” Then she coldly continued, “And as much as you pretend not to know, I think you do.”

“I try to think the best. But, I’ll be honest. What really made me cry is just that.” He leaned back against the refrigerator. “I don’t care.”


“No, Sandra. I care about your happiness and health. I care about you… but I stopped truly caring long ago. And I think… if that young man hadn’t been so young and had, indeed, been here for you I would have told you to go on with him.” And just as soon as his words left his mouth she flew out of the kitchen and down the hallway into their bedroom.

“Fine! I’ll be going then!” She bellowed from the bedroom before slamming the door. She grabbed the telephone next to the bed and began calling Rick.

And Scott emerged from the bathroom. He was sad, shocked and slightly pleased to have avoided a punishment. At least for today…

A Family Discussion

Part II of IV

Mrs. Blume exhaled from her cigarette. “Man…”. Her coral lips parted.

The car was parked several miles out of town near the river. Mrs. Blume, Sandra, was a middle-aged, lovely woman. Dark. And she loved sneaking secret cigarettes.

Rick, her boyfriend, hated cigarette smoke but adored Sandra.

Mrs. Blume was Sarah’s mother. Mr. Blume (not Rick) was Sarah’s father. They were married, but not happily so. Not at all.

On Thursdays Sandra met Rick at the coffee shop near the train station at the edge of town and they dashed off in his Jeep to their special spot. When they found a perfect place to park they made-love. And then Sandra had her cigarettes while Rick stepped outside to get fresh air. Rick truly hated smoke.

Long, stick straight hair and a blunt fringe flies about her tanned olive skin and dark hazel eyes. Smoke flows upward and out of the cracked windows in the front seat.

She smiles slyly. Then, Rick opens the door to the passenger’s seat. He sits his slightly rotund frame in the front seat. His faintly balding blond hair is a bit wispy about his fair face. His crystalline blue eyes flow back to Sandra. The color of his camel cashmere coat soothes Sandra with its quiet lack of moodiness.

“So?” He smiles. He beams. Rick is in love with Sandra at the very least. He adores her. She giggles and kicks his seat in response.

Reading his expression she sulks, “You aren’t going to start with that again?” She pleads.

Rick frowns.

He throws himself back against the car door, stretches-out his legs and sighs. Toying with his fingers in disgruntled manliness, he continues.

“See.” He swallows hard. “You are exactly what I’ve been waiting for my entire life.” He fervently strains his neck to glance over at Sandra now. “You and your kids-” his voice trails off.

“Hmph.” Sandra blows her smoky breath into the hairs above her elegantly tweezed eyebrows. Her playfulness masks her profound anxiety in this moment.

“I just want to start over-” Sandra cuts him off. She had heard this all before.

“I know. I know… You want to have another try at a family.” Sandra sits up more distinctly and lightly touches the crisp collar of her white cotton blouse. She examines Rick’s semi-sullen face frankly but lovingly.

“Yes. I’m in love. You know that. But it’s even more than that…”. He rubs his fingers over his lips thoughtfully.

She looks flummoxed and ever so slightly captivated. Maybe he’s about to say something about the accident, she thinks.

It was a terrible crash. His wife and their two daughters were killed in an automobile accident with a semi on an icy bridge ten years ago. He had been struggling desperately ever since.

Five years of intensive therapy combined with years of crying, and restless mourning had left Rick changed. He claimed that in his youth, long before Sandra knew him, he was a devil-may-care, crazy child of a certain reckless world view.

Rick had married Elizabeth, his first wife, only after she was pregnant with their twins and then stayed faithful only because he was still in love with her. Elizabeth, apparently, was his exact opposite.

And, Rick never talked about any of it. Well, only once had he even said anything about it at all.

Actually, his inability to talk about it was one of reasons Sandra hesitated going further with him. He was a fling because she had labeled him emotionally defective after their first meeting at a bar two years ago… In her growing ambivalence after two decades of a dead marriage she was cut-throat like that – no warning. Just a quick judgement made. Usually sadly accurate…

“I crave the sort of intimacy that comes with marriage. The kind of heart-to-heart closeness Elizabeth and I had.” He almost hid himself in the collar of his coat at this. “I… dream of running away with you.” He paused and looked out the backseat window at nothing in particular, fervently. “We’d go some place warm. With beaches and sunshine. And then come back and take your kids and move to Boston.”

“I hate the city. You know that…” she ran her fingers through her hair. “But either way, I just…”

“I know. You want more time.” He laughed mirthfully.

“I do. You know?” She smiled sadly.

“But what about this?” He raised his arms to reference everything about them; the sunny blue sky on this crisp early spring day and the way the river had just started to unthaw and the way the snow was melting in the sunlight, creating dark puddles on the pavement.

“Well.” She responded. He often referenced nature when he was trying to describe the impermanence and vulnerability of all life and beauty.

“I just don’t think we should assume things. What we have is rare. It’s special. And I want to savor it.” He mused in quick retort.

She could only smile in response. Later, after he dropped her off at the train depot and she made her way back to her car she would start her “process” as she called it. She would unravel all the tightly wound, beautiful pieces of emotion that comprised her being after her meetings with him and then she would start to dull and distance herself from it all.

Sometimes in her “process” she would find an objective truth. Other times there was a lie. Either way she chilled. She compartmentalized it all. Beautifully.

Walking in on her daughter reading a Latin textbook in her room, she smiled. Sincerely. What a hard-worker Sarah was. She was an honors student. Sandra had always wanted to be an honors student in school growing up. But, learning things from books was never her thing. No, Sandra was a cheerleader in school… And a good one, actually.

Sandra was also voted, “Most attractive” her senior year. All the boys loved her, including Dale Blume. But Dale Blume was the smartest, funniest and kindest senior of 1975. When Dale Blume decided Sandra was going to be his wife, six years post graduation, she said, “yes.” Of course.

As a lawyer, Dale did well and all was nice and fairly lovely enough until Dale lost himself. Lost himself, you might ask? Why yes.

You see, Dale was actually sort of brilliant but all the heat and intensity that ran almost amok in his fast mind never left it. He was an exceedingly temperate man. But he was a sensitive man, none-the-less, and sometimes a scorching set of feelings might attack what had become a rather icy exterior and leave him nearly exposed. All the musings in his deep recesses threatened to pour out and that… well that… was terrifying to him. How do you reason through it all satisfactorily? You can’t.

Several years ago, when his legal mentor, Mr. Fallcroft, died of a sudden heart-attack one summer night while Dale was in the middle of a conversation with him – the two men had been finishing martinis – and he had to call 911 and comfort a nearly hysteric Marjorie Fallcroft until her kids arrived, Dale was left a bit unhinged. And then, when their dog, Mutsy, was killed three weeks later by a freak accident involving a train, he started cracking. Although, it was nothing truly life-changing until he found out about a casual flirtation that had developed between Sandra and his partner at the firm, Matt.

Sandra had been neglected for years, he reasoned. He was busy with his career and she was bored… She hated the long hours alone at home with only the smattering of noise that came from the two kids’ rooms occasionally.

Matt was younger. He was the youngest partner at the firm. He was… cute, or he must have been? He had two dimples and a sort of Sicilian broad shouldered beauty.

Dale had noticed Sandra and Matt chatting at a dinner party two years earlier but not until the family dog died and he found Sandra crying into the bedroom phone to Matt did he realize his wife had… crossed a certain line. And perhaps, gone a bit too far.

The fling ended shortly thereafter at Dale’s insistence, but the marriage was never the same after that. And while Sandra swore she was faithful, he secretly guessed she wasn’t. Maybe she was? But… he knew better. And sadly, he so craved a sort of peace more than… Sandra… that he didn’t bother finding out about her doings for certain.

Had they ever loved each other? No. If we’re going to be honest the answer is no.

But they thought they did.

And, often, they were so at ease with each other, so beguiled by the mystery of the other, and attracted to the other’s charms that the arrangement worked. It worked well enough to keep them glued together; enough to conceive two children and form some semblance of a perfect American, suburban, late 20th Century family, in fact.

Still, Dale had lost himself that summer while Sandra had escaped into the arms of several seductive, if dead-end romances. Where Dale was exactly, nobody knew… Maybe his heart was locked away in a cabinet somewhere in his office. Maybe his soul was half frozen in the basement refrigerator where he stored his expensive gin.

But Dale had lost it. He was beyond quiet. Beyond sedate. And the tragedy was that he didn’t seem to see it in himself. He didn’t seem to recognize that he was… in fact… a zombie.

Sandra silkily slinked into the basement where she found Dale sitting, reading a book about the Civil War. His usual…

He didn’t move an inch.

When she approached him and caressed his hair and he could smell her musky perfume – something from high school she still wore by Jovan – he didn’t even blink. Sandra slightly groaned, as she always did to show something. He was never sure what she was trying to tell him with her sighs and general noise making…

“Hello!” She coyly and happily bent over him and kissed his cheek. He, of course, mostly ignored her. As always. “I won’t keep bothering you, but I just wanted to touch my man.” She flirted.

“Oh yes. Thank you, dearest.” He roused a bit and just barely caressed her head a little with his left hand. A faint smile formed on his face but dissolved amazingly quickly. His book then absorbed whatever part of him had momentarily surfaced.

Scott, Sarah’s younger brother sat upstairs watching t.v.. A can of just opened beer was in his right hand.

He quickly glanced around the room. Nobody was there. He drank quickly but methodically. Then he stopped and stared at the can, grimacing. A look of pure disgust contorted the features of his handsome, blue, rose and jonquil face. He got up from the over-sized leather easy chair and moved into the kitchen where he dumped out the remainder of the beer in the can. He turned the sink on and tried to wash it all down the drain as fast as possible.

Scott took the offending can and threw it in the recycling bin. Nobody would guess it was his, he thought. Then he opened the liquor cabinet and poured a little rum in a glass. Somewhere he had heard that rum mixed with soda was tasty. He wanted to try that next.

With a can of root beer added to the rum he found the taste palatable. He moved to the floral sofa by the bay window in the living-room and slowly sipped. He felt very “grown-up” indeed. Then Sarah walked in.

Scott’s eyes opened exceedingly wide and a look of half terror spread across his face. Sarah would not approve of her little brother getting tipsy in the living-room.

But Sarah was in another world. She looked dazed. He was almost worried but she didn’t seem unhappy. He tried to quickly chug his drink down before she left her state and noticed him and his offending beverage.

But Sarah had an exceptionally keen sense of smell. She started sniffing the air until she turned to face Scott and noticed him sitting there with a look she had never seen him wear.

“Scott.” She looked scared as she severely but half floated toward him. First she propped open his left eyeball and examined his pupil. Then she pried his mouth apart and stuck her small nose inside. All her senses were like that. Uncanny.

“Oh my gosh. You’ve been drinking.”

Scott was used to his sister. He shrugged.


He sighed in response. “Umm…” But his usual pretenses weren’t there to protect him. He found himself feeling rather… careless. He chuckled. “I was dared by a couple of guys at school to drink a beer and I told them I would.”


“Because…”. He shrugged. “I dunno. I guess it’s cool?” He thought out loud.

“Oh my gosh! That’s so cliché Scott. Seriously?!”

He looked confused and maybe a little hurt. He got up and moved toward the direction of his bedroom.

“Scott! Come back here!” Sarah ordered.

At times like this Scott knew who his “real mother” was. It bothered him because he knew it wasn’t fair to Sarah, but she always knew things. She always cared.

“Scott! You need to explain to me why you’re doing this. Truly. Because you can’t drink. You just can’t. I can’t let you.” Sarah decided.

“I dunno.” He sat down again. “I guess I really did just think it seemed… fun?”

“Fun how?”

“Fun because it looks fun? And actually, it does feel kind of… fun.” He stared off into space.

“Yeah. Until you get hurt or hurt someone else. Or you do it too often and then die a miserable slow death.” Sarah glared at him now.

He knew he couldn’t argue. He had read about it.

“Are you going to tell Mom and Dad?” Scott finally had to ask.

“Yes. But I’ll argue for leniency if you promise me not to tell those guys at school you drank. I want you to tell them it was a bad idea and leave it at that.” She bit her bottom lip.

He looked puzzled and churned his brow. “What?!”

“Yeah. I know you’re just trying to fit in but the sort of guys who do crap like this aren’t worth it.” She angrily mused.

“Ok. So you want me to be an outcast on principal?”

“Something like that. Yes.” Her face slightly turned to stone.

“Hmm. Interesting idea. Ok. Whatever.” He shrugged.

“Well, ok, so just to clarify: I’m not saying that these guys are worthless people.” She quickly added. “I just think… They’re often troubled. Some might be… cruel. Some might be… just confused, but they’re not worth trying to fit in with.”

He nodded a little but didn’t respond. Then he asked, “Why are you so angry?”

“What?!” She seemed both baffled and impressed by his intuition.

“You just seem… mad?” All the sensitivity of both parents and a sort of mellow sweetness comprised the basic makeup of Scott.

“I am, I guess.” She threw herself back on the sofa.

“Why?” He was still tipsy and waiting for something monumental to happen.

“Greg ripped me apart today. He basically verbally assaulted me as we were walking out to his car after school. He called me a fat toad… And then he told me to go home and weep.”

Both siblings sat silent for a moment; peaceful in each other’s company. Scott scratched his chin and blinked quickly.

“So he’s an asshole after all.” Scott eventually said, quietly.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve always wondered which side of things he’d be on. You know, like would he be a jerk when he got older or would he be one of the good guys.”

“One of the good guys?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah. Would he be the sort of guy who uses his brilliance for good or evil.”

“I’ve never thought of him that way, but I guess he is brilliant.” Sarah mused.

“That’s because you’re so smart too. We all are. Mom and Dad gave us good good genes that way.” Scott placed his hands behind his head. “At least, I think so.”

“He is brilliant. And now he’s evil I guess…”

Scott nodded his head in agreement. “You know, there are other guys though Sarah.”

“I know. I met one.”


“His name is Patrick. He drove me home today and we have a math class together.” Sarah wasn’t sure how much to share with her 13 year old brother.

“Are you going to marry him Sarah?” Scott joked suddenly.

“What?!” She smiled.

“I saw you kissing him.” He giggled.

“What?!” Sarah was half horrified and half amazed at how cool he had played it. He might not have even brought it up if she hadn’t… Or would he have brought it up?

“I was waiting across the street at the playground for you to come home because I wanted to see if you’d drink beer with me.” He was embarrassed. “I was scared to do it myself I guess.” He smiled. “But then I saw you and… him.” He moved his eyebrows up and down in a silly way, teasing her.

“Oh my gosh. That’s so gross that you had to see that.” She apologized.

“No. It’s cool. I didn’t watch that much.”

“That was my first kiss today.” Sarah gushed a little.

“I had guessed that.”

They were quiet. Then Sarah said what they both were thinking:

“We need to be careful, Scott. Seriously.”

He breathed deeply, nodded, smiled and together they sat pondering. More sober and somewhat melancholy now they both pondered.

Un Chercher

This is a wild fragrance (Signature Fragrances 2014). But it’s wild and… blue. Like super chilled whisky. The lemon and lavender are menthol-like, in an almost eucalyptus sort of way, but they are lemon and lavender after-all… And this fragrance, classified as a men’s fragrance, is gentlemanly. Very polite. Even when the oud and meets the lusty musk it all stays quite appropriate. Also, the airy beauty of the lemon (flanked by an intelligent bergamot) overtakes everything and refuses to be anything but sublimely fresh, classic and… nice. I don’t usually wear men’s fragrances but this is one I may have to consider.

Top notes: lemon, bergamot and lavender. Middle notes: sandalwood, patchouli snd agarwood. Base notes: musk and amber.

A Family Discussion

Part I of IV

It was late winter, or early spring depending on how you figure such things, when Sarah first decided Greg was actually in love with Samantha. And sure, it made sense. Samantha was a very popular junior at Coldbrook Senior High School. Greg, who used to be decidedly, and most wonderfully nerdy, no longer wished to be anything but fashionable. Of course, not the “preppy” sort of fashionable but the sort that Samantha was. And wasn’t.

Samantha had a token ally in every “cool” crowd of kids. And she attained her golden status through manipulation, hard work, wit, her parent’s money and a touch of pure evil.

Anyway, Samantha was perfect for Greg right now. Or so he seemed to think.

She was the one who he sat with for lunch every day. Unfailingly.

And that put Sarah in a sad spot because Greg was her ride home on Thursdays after track practice (they both had been running since childhood and often used to practice together since they grew up just two blocks apart). And… she had a terrible crush on him.

Sarah had “asked him out” in the fifth grade in front of the entire class at recess once. Of course, Greg was speechless and never truly responded that day or ever. But, it was well known that Sarah adored him and people often had assumed they were together.


“I’m not sorry for anything I did at Amber’s party! You and I are not together.” Greg turned to face Sarah with a look of both rage and disappointment.

She had waited for him at his locker at the end of the school day and now was leaving the school with him towards the parking lot. They had been chatting about a party that happened over the last weekend. Sarah had heard rumors about him and Sam… Greg was confirming them.

“I know. I know.” She calmly and reassuringly responded.

“Then why are you always following me?!” He half shrieked, acting as if it was the oddest thing in the world for her to be doing so even right now, despite the unspoken agreement they had always previously adhered to that suggested otherwise. …At least on Thursdays after track practice.

“Because you’ve been giving me rides home on Thursdays after practice for the last three years?” She could tell he just wanted to find a way to get rid of her without having to actually say it, but she felt both hurt and determined to make him admit whatever it was that was finally drawing these moments to a close.

“Yeah, I guess. But, so what?! Maybe I’m busier now than I was before? I don’t know.” He moved towards his old red convertible and reached to open the driver’s door then added, “Or maybe I just realized what a fat toad I had sitting next to me the whole time.” He laughed to himself.

“What!?” This cruelty was not like him.

“Yeah. Listen, it’s no big deal.” He sat down in the driver’s seat and put his key in the ignition. “You clearly just don’t get it. Kinda like how you don’t get so many other things…”. He laughed to himself yet again. “Actually,” he stared out the windshield and grinned impishly, “…the best thing for you to do right now is just go away and then home and cry because… I just don’t like you anymore. At all. Mmkay?” He closed the door and rolled down the window quickly to add, “And I know you’ll just go home and cry after this. Because… I know you. I know you love me and I know you think I love you. But, sweetie, you’re just…”. He paused, “Oh my gosh, how did Samantha put it? It was perfect.” He placed his finger on his lips and closed his eyes to think. “Oh yes!” He opened his eyes again and snapped his fingers and then, “You’re basically an overgrow baby.”

“Yeah… I probably will cry, but I’m not fat and I’m not a baby. And why are you being so mean and emotionally abusive? You’ve been cold off and on since October, but right now you’re being cruel.”

He rolled his eyes and shrugged, then lit up a joint. He puffed a little. Then he decided:

“You know, really, I’m just not who you think I am. I never was. Seriously.” Then he turns to her finally and in total deadpan flatly says, “Just go home and bawl. Mmkay? Truly. It’ll make you feel better.” Then he rolled up his window and drove away.

The cold air around Sarah had a familiarity that made it safe, but also a certain spitefulness. It was as if she was being punished somehow for not seeing this moment coming. If she’d anticipated this moment she’d not be so cold right now…

Then Sarah made a mental note to kill whatever feelings she had for Greg. Whatever feelings she had for him that would die in the duration of a hopefully quick and frigid run home… She wanted to get rid of him in her heart and mind as quickly as possible. No matter how painful.

But first, she had to absorb the shock. She really hadn’t seen this moment coming… They had been friends since childhood.

She had walked as far as the first house, beyond the first stoplight when she heard a loud honk. It succeeds in totally startling Sarah from her despair filled daze.

Behind Sarah was a black shiny pickup truck that had pulled over to the curb. But, “…who in the world did she know who owned a pickup?!” she wondered to herself. Then she saw the driver; Patrick Steele was in her math class. He was a somewhat tall, rather handsome junior and he was certainly intelligent enough to be a nerd, which would have been her crowd, but she didn’t think he even knew she existed. Patrick was much more popular than that. Or so it seemed?

He motioned for her to get closer to the truck. He rolled down the window and she looked in, slightly aghast.

“Hi. Do you need a ride?” He asked so plainly and honestly that it was hard to twist it. Sure, he was a relatively unknown young man. That was a no no – getting a car with a guy who you didn’t know. Bad idea. But, he seemed so… simple. Her usually keen senses didn’t send any signs of alarm. Maybe it was safe? She decided to risk it.

“Thank you for the ride.” She said, half amazing herself as she slid in and felt lifted farther from the ground than she expected. Then she composed herself with as much self control as she could gather. Looking straight ahead she tried to act as “natural” as possible.

“I know you from math class, don’t I?” He questioned politely.

“Yes.” She turned to him and smiled sweetly and innocently; mostly because that’s exactly the sort of girl Sarah was.

“Right.” He looked at her sharply and quickly and he seemed to be forming a half thought-out conjecture. It showed on his face. “So, can you tell me what I just saw in the parking lot? I know that’s nosy of me to ask, but I can’t figure it out and it bothers me.”

“What do you mean?” He had her full attention.

“You looked like you were about ready to burst into tears.”

Sarah was shocked. She felt the slight jiggle of the road and looked about, searching for something familiar to mentally assuage her anxiety. But this whole experience was foreign. And yet she liked him more and more each second.

“Greg Brown has been giving me rides home on Thursdays after track practice for the last three years.” She was further taken off guard to notice that Patrick was fervently listening so she happily continued.

“Anyway… He told me he wanted to learn how to win the votes of all the popular kids. So he befriended Samantha Olson.” Then there was an awkward silence because she couldn’t quite figure out where to take this train of conversation now that she had vulnerably started it and what if Patrick and Sam were friends?

“…So… then he started acting different. But, well… I’ve sort of had a crush on him for years.” She nervously chuckled and blushed. “I bet you know that though. Half the school probably knows that.” And as she said that, Patrick felt that she almost seemed to be half apologizing for it. She was… Privacy was very important to dear, sweet little Sarah…

He looked over at her momentarily, studying her further. Then she continued.

“Well, anyway. I’ve been waiting for this spring to ask him if we can make our relationship official because I thought we might go to the prom together. And then plan our senior year. And he actually had been hinting at that being a possibility for about a year.” She shrugged.

“But, umm… I think him and Samantha are going to go together to the prom now.” She lingered over her words and stared out the passenger window. “Anyway, I don’t think Samantha likes me very much. And I think she wants to hurt me. So, he said some really mean things and basically ended our friendship. And I think Sam was a big reason why.” She finished.

“So, he did that to get the votes he needs to win the class presidency?” Patrick half asked and half insinuated some other intention in the tone of his words. It was almost if he was cutting the wound deeper and Sarah couldn’t figure out why, although she wondered.

“I mean, it’s possible he’s just really into Sam and is trying to make her feel like I’m not a problem?” She offered this thought thinking that’s the answer he might be looking for.

“Or both.” He suggested.

She nodded her head. “Exactly.” She murmured intrigued. Then she looked out the passenger’s window again.

“You can go with me, if you want.” He said. Very suddenly…

She turned and looked at him in shock. Maybe he was just making fun of her. A boy that handsome and popular wouldn’t be interested in her. Right? How cruel? But he said nothing more for the time being.

They pulled up to her house. Nobody was home. Then with an agile quickness he leaned over and breathed a damp, quiet breath in her left ear.

She faced him now in shock. Her eyes were huge.

And Patrick kissed her neck softly by her ear and then leaned back and away from her, against the car door, as if he was waiting for a response. Very patiently waiting…

“I mean.” She tried to quickly and impeccably collect her thoughts and feelings. She had determined that this would not be another painful moment. No! “Umm, well, you’re very good-looking. And if you were at all serious I’d accept your offer, but I’m not in the mood to be teased right now.”

He smiled and nearly chuckled. “Ok… I’m not teasing you.”

“Then, yes?” She surprised herself even.

“Really?” It was his turn to seem a bit taken aback.

“Yes.” She read his “really” with a subtext of being a probe to indicate her remaining feelings or intentions toward Greg. “Well, I mean, I…” She looked over at Patrick’s face momentarily but he still looked quite serious and sincere so she continued.

“I’ve had a crush on you I suppose, but I never thought it would come to anything. It’s been in the back of my mind, maybe. You know? I’m very loyal and I always thought I’d end up with Greg at some point, but you can’t help but notice people sometimes, even if it means nothing more than that you’re noticing them. In that moment, at least. Well… I mean… that sounds awful.” Sarah nervously laughed.

“I think that’s fine.” He smiled and blushed a little, which further amazed her. “I’m not afraid… And I find you attractive too.” Then he leaned over and kissed her softly but passionately for just long enough for it to be ever so slightly disorientating, but also enticing and not at all frightening.

It felt unclear to Sarah how she could ever have been so interested in Greg when someone and something like this was out there. But it was a momentary thought and she reasoned that there must be a catch. Some flaw… So she didn’t let herself get too excited. The beautiful, languid and happy shock passed then, rather quickly.

“Well, it’s a date then?” He attempted to finalize it.

“Yes. Thank you.” She felt a little cheerful.

“Can you give me your number?” He got out his phone and took down her number. “I’ll see you later then,” he finished when they were done. Then he looked at her firmly, seemingly dismissing her.

“Ok. Sounds wonderful.” She smiled half in shock and half inspired. Then she reached around to open the door, but before she could open the door he leaned in again and gave her another quiet, infinitely passionate, but still delightfully tasteful kiss. Then, as if to escape some fire looming on the horizon, she opened the door quickly and smiled quietly.

He smiled back.

She got out, walked away to her front door and found herself perfectly and very unexpectedly content. As he drove away she wondered. Many things…

Wild Rose

A tart but voluptuous rose is the dominant note in this vintage gem (Woods of Windsor unknown). It’s a green, resinous rose with possible accompanying notes of at least violet and geranium? Perhaps there’s also sandalwood (myrrh?) and heliotrope? Amber? At any rate, it’s wonderfully nostalgic and exactly what I was in the mood for today – an airy, cathartic rose.

Some Things…

So far 2018 has felt… slightly traumatic. Yes. Traumatic.

See, the year 2017 was so rough and crazy that time went by more quickly or the holidays provided some sort of moment to reflect and finally let all the sharp, terrifying realizations of the last year sink in. Either way, I wasn’t ready for a new year. 2018 came too quickly. And in that fast, premature spot I started this year. All two days of it. And it’s been… weird.

Also, we’ve had weather colder than I recall it almost ever being consistently. Cold and dry. There’s snow here in Minnesota but not that much. And it’s absolutely, brutally frigid.

At least, that’s my perception of the weather… But, I could be wrong. Maybe I just got used to Seattle?

Actually, right now I feel an unpleasant and confusing mix of hope and sadness. And, I’m not sure which one should be taken the most seriously. Do you know what I mean?

There could be many moments to enjoy and passionately love in the future. Or, not? Perhaps the world is headed down a dark path, led by ego-maniacs and we’ll all suffer? Or there could be… a bit of mysterious magic brewing? It’s an unsure and deeply unknown era.

I keep trying to steer things toward some kind of steady and relative calm in my own life. I love adventure but it’s nice to know things. It’s nice to have some sort of normalcy, even if it’s a “new normal.”

But life seems to keep throwing me off balance every now and then. Just when I think I’m starting to understand the overall scope of things, I am tossed about.

Still, it’s a better winter than last winter. Much more calm. Much more pleasant… So, I must have learned something from the previous trials. I must be learning…

Oh well. At least my shoe collection is steadily improving. 😂 It’s a small thing but it’s fun.


Nocturnes de Caron

Apple-like aldehydes lace a powdery rose at the start of Nocturnes de Caron (Caron 1981). Then sharp, vibrant citrus notes mix with a fruity jasmine. And all through the life of the fragrance the notes are drenched by sweet, slightly animatic but elegant musk. Really, the name fits it perfectly. It’s brooding, melancholy and lovely – Chopin in a bottle.

Top notes: tincture of rose, aldehydes, neroli, and orange. Middle notes: tuberose, ylang ylang and jasmine. Base notes: sandalwood, musk and vetiver.

Nose: Gerald Lefort

Pure Poison

This flacon is perfectly matched to this fragrance. Pure Poison (Dior 2004), to my nose, truly is like a clear, effervescent version of the original Dior Poison. It’s as if all the mysterious, fruity warmth and subtle spice of the first has been washed out and what’s left is a shimmery substance with a remarkable resemblance.

Unfortunately, it’s not a fragrance that couples well with my skin chemistry due to something that reads as aquatic on my skin. However, it’s easy to see its beauty from the citrusy top notes to the cool floral heart with a unique gardenia to the equally chilled, woody base.

Top notes: bergamot, Sicilian mandarin, orange and jasmine. Middle notes: orange blossom and gardenia. Base notes: sandalwood, white amber and cedar.

Noses: Carlos Benaim, Dominique Ropion, and Olivier Polge.

A Tempest In A Teapot

I love old Saint Paul. Passionately.

Yesterday we drove around looking at houses we might buy from the outside. We don’t want to hire a realtor until this spring, or at least not for a little while. So, we’re still merrily scouting out the neighborhoods and gathering a better sense of things.

It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Some of the homes look so filled with romance and a tremendous amount of wild promise from the outside. You can so easily imagine the treasures both architectural and otherwise that must be inside. Too easily. And of course, it’s all imagination because often what’s inside is dismally disappointing. You know what I mean. They’re the sort of house where there’s really nothing to be all that happy or excited about. The home is just a big nothing or a dangerous mess waiting for a victim.

But I did and do feel so much longing at the thought of it. Ahh. Just the very idea of that beauty…

And, in my most honest moments, I have to admit my true self. I love the sort of work involved in preserving that kind of beauty. And I love the quietness and sincerity it often involves to be mindful enough for me to be able to do so. I’m certainly a creative introvert if nothing else. I want to dive in so badly, but with a certain silence and peace.

I’m not really an aggressive person by nature (although I can be as feisty as they come when needed), so I’m afraid I will have to leave a lot up to other forces. I do best when I keep to myself and give my thoughts respectfully but firmly. I am most at ease and happiest when I can truly lean back and trust and then get to work… Of course that requires a lot of good fortune and general goodness.

And as much as I love adventure, I just need to be patient. I need to be extremely patient with indifferent nature and the general state of life – my life. I need to really wait. And I think, waiting is something we all need to learn to acquire a taste for again…

And in that waiting I need to be wise. Ideally I don’t want to loose anything valuable (like time or energy).

My mind needs an honest calm though. So … off to shoes. And pearls. And the sort of sartorial truthfulness that has enough risk involved to make it fun but enough inborn safety to make it restful.